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Sri Lanka Exports Fall Most in 30 Months on Tea, Textiles

May 30 (Bloomberg) -- Sri Lanka’s exports declined the most in 30 months in March as demand for textiles, tea and rubber moderated.

Overseas sales fell 10.2 percent from a year earlier to $835.7 million, after rising 7.6 percent in February, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka said in a statement today. Imports rose 3.9 percent to $1.69 billion, for a trade deficit of $861.3 million.

Sri Lanka has sought to pare demand for imports such as oil to fight a trade shortfall exacerbated by a moderation in overseas sales as Europe’s debt crisis curbs Asian shipments. Officials have raised interest rates this year to damp credit growth, increased fuel prices and moved toward a more freely floating exchange rate, seeking to shield foreign reserves.

Expenditure on imports of refined petroleum products increased by about 18 percent as a result of higher prices, the central bank said in the statement today. Gross official foreign reserves were $5.73 billion by the end of March, equivalent to 3.3 months of imports, it said.

Textiles and garment exports in March fell 11.7 percent to $319.4 million, the central bank said. Agricultural shipments declined 10.1 percent to $203.2 million, while the value of industrial exports fell 10.9 percent to $624.2 million.

The nation has targeted exports of $11.7 billion in 2012 and expects imports of $20.9 billion, central bank Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal said May 8.

The rupee fell 0.3 percent to 132.40 per dollar as of 4:36 p.m. local time. The currency has tumbled about 16.2 percent so far in 2012.

To contact the reporter on this story: Anusha Ondaatjie in Colombo at anushao@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Hari Govind at hgovind@bloomberg.net

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